A 25-year King County police officer was charged Friday with aggravated first-degree murder in a case that prosecutors say began as an arson-for-profit scheme.
Mathias Bachmeier, a 49-year-old police sergeant, is charged in the presumed death of James Bradley Wren, 35, of Preston, who is missing.
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said investigators believe Bachmeier set his own Renton home on fire July 9 to collect insurance and then, when police began looking at him as the prime suspect, set out to find someone else to blame it on.
Bachmeier was arrested Wednesday and is jailed without bail. Maleng has 30 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
Wren was last seen being driven away from his home in Bachmeier’s police car Aug. 10, investigators said.
Wren had called police that day after a dispute with his landlord. Bachmeier responded to the call and drove Wren to the Fall City police substation to take a statement. After giving the statement, Wren reportedly told Bachmeier that he would make his own way home. Wren hasn’t been seen since and police have found no activity on his telephone, bank and credit card accounts.
Prosecutors allege that Bachmeier extracted a false written confession from Wren about the fire, then killed him and dumped his body at an unknown location. A large amount of blood was found soaked into the back seat of Bachmeier’s patrol car, Maleng said.
In Renton, Bachmeier’s mother, Magdelana Bachmeier, told the South County Journal she last talked to her son when he came home earlier this week for dinner. She said her son talked about being under investigation by his department, but assured her he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“I don’t believe anything that’s been said. He told us he didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.
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